Sarah Caruso: Strength through the years, building for the future

04022015_Caruso_Sarah_EricaLoeksPhoto_0035“It takes strength to stand alone, it takes courage to lean on another…” – From the poem “It Takes Courage,” by Anonymous

We at Greater Twin Cities United Way work to help people and communities realize their full potential. But we cannot accomplish this work alone; it’s most effective when everyone participates through the strength of collaboration.

On behalf of United Way, I want to express our deep appreciation and recognize our partners at the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation and St. Paul Regional Labor Federation’s Labor Studies and Resource Center for helping us to bring about change.

We highly value our longstanding partnership with the Labor Community. This teamwork has, at times, extended to providing assistance to union members when they’ve been confronted with difficult circumstances, such as layoffs, medical emergencies or other financial challenges.

As I reflect on Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Centennial year in 2015, our 100-plus-year relationship between United Way and the region’s labor community continues to be strong.

Allow me to share some of the highlights of an extremely busy and fulfilling year of the labor and United Way partnership:

  • We marched together in the annual Winter Carnival Parade.
  • Working Partnerships, the nonprofit arm of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, also assisted with the Volunteer United Child’s Play project at Catholic Charities’ Northside Child Development Center through securing and guiding apprentice painters to paint the building’s exterior.
  • Labor and United Way volunteered at the Great Minnesota Get-Together – the State Fair – by creating T-shirt tote bags. More than 70 totes were made and donated to the NorthPoint Health and Wellness foodshelf
  • And the key pinnacle, labor community donors contributed to a significant increase in their annual campaign!

Labor’s longstanding commitment to United Way campaigns ranges from smaller organizations’ one-time donations to our large corporate partners’ fundraising and volunteer efforts. I’m excited to report that as a community, we raised over $82 million to be invested in our Safety Net and Education & Jobs goal areas.

We also salute your brothers and sisters in the labor community who are represented in United Way’s top corporate partners. That includes CenturyLink, The Toro Company, UPS and Xcel Energy.

The Twin Cities are often referred to as one of the best places to live in America. We’re committed to making that true for all people, ensuring everyone can make the most of their lives. We recognize our diversity, and access to education, jobs and basic needs makes us all stronger.

Looking ahead in 2016, we are enthusiastic about the meetings that have taken place so far this year between the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation and United Way where we developed strategies and set a foundation that we believe will generate excitement about the partnership.

Collectively we are unstoppable. We are humankind.

­– Sarah Caruso is president and chief executive officer of Greater Twin Cities United Way, which serves people in need in nine metro-area counties. Learn more about how you can “live united” at

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